Looking back at Day 6 of the U.S. Open while focusing on the marquee matches of Day 7
Day 6 Recap
-After a couple inconsistent, injury-affected seasons, Victoria Azarenka tapped into her 2012 and 2013 form to prevail in the best match of the tournament thus far, a three-set thriller over Angie Kerber (who had awful luck in Grand Slam draws this season). If you missed it, be sure to find highlights or a replay.
-Andy Murray and Roger Federer scored routine third round wins to reach the second week. Federer has yet to drop a set, while Murray managed a much needed drama-free match after dropping three sets in the prior rounds. They were joined by Stan Wawrinka and John Isner, the latter of whom won yet another match without dropping a set or even needing a tiebreaker (though it was aided by his opponent, Jiri Vesely, retiring after the second set.)
-Donald Young and Sabine Lisicki sent the Grandstand out in style, as they both claimed emotional victories to keep their unlikely Open runs going. For the final singles matches in the historic stadium, Young again came from two sets down, this time against Viktor Troicki, while Lisicki pulled out a 7-5 third set over Barbora Strycova.
-Continuing to set themselves apart from the rest of the already-vanquished top ten, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova continued to accrue ho-hum wins, something of a surprise given Halep’s recent struggles dealing with the pressure of majors and Kvitova’s track record of early losses in New York.
Day 7 Matches to Watch
-Serena Williams (1) vs Madison Keys (19)
Keys finally solved the Radwanska Riddle, defeating the crafty tactician for the first time in five tries. As a reward, she gets her shot at ending Serena’s bid for the Calendar Slam. Their semifinal in Australia featured some incredible quality, when Keys saved a seemingly-infinite number of set points before Williams claimed the first set and rolled to a win. If the youngster can play free and loose, she’ll be a very uncomfortable opponent, seeing as she’s one of just a handful of players who can truly control points against the world No. 1.
The path to victory for Keys is to get free points on the serve and hammer the forehand down the middle. That’s how Garbine Muguruza has managed moderate success against Serena, as the deep, middle forehands remove the running angles masterfully employed by Williams. Keys also needs to be aggressive, as errors in lengthy rallies are much likelier to come off her racket than Serena’s.
Prediction: Serena in three sets
-Feliciano Lopez (18) vs Fabio Fognini (32)
Fognini became the first player ever to beat Rafael Nadal when trailing two sets to love at a major, but now he faces another challenge: in the last five years, only Novak Djokovic has won his next match at a Grand Slam after eliminating Nadal before the final (and even Djokovic suffered a stunning defeat in the final to Wawrinka), and even at non-majors, players rarely keep their run going after beating the King of Clay. That’s before even getting to Fognini’s well-deserved reputation for mentally disengaging from matches. Until Fognini proves otherwise, it’s best to bet against him.
Prediction: Lopez in four sets
With a lackluster slate, here’s some quicker hitters:
-Novak Djokovic (1) vs Roberto Bautista-Agut (23)
RBA’s lack of belief or weaponry means his matches against the top players look more like practice sessions. Djokovic’s easy draw could continue all the way to the final.
-Marin Cilic (9) vs Jeremy Chardy (27)
On paper, this match would suggest an entertaining affair. In reality, it’s a good opportunity to skip the first match of the day and sleep in on the last Sunday of 2015 without football.
-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (19) vs Benoit Paire
Two maddeningly inconsistent French players facing off, which means a prediction is pointless.
Also in action: Venus Williams, Ekaterina Makarova vs Kiki Mladenovic and possibly Genie Bouchard, who may forced to withdraw after sustaining a head injury in a locker room accident.